Family recipes that have been handed down to us from our mothers and grandmothers are ones that we often always like to make in our own kitchens, but not necessarily as healthy of meals as we hope. Though as delicious as they are, past generations may not have used the healthiest ingredients from what we have learned from medical evidence of today. Of course, you don’t want to give up those tasty dishes that brought such fond memories while growing up. However, you do want to try to improve on those family favorites with a recipe makeover to convert them into more healthy meals.
Trying to remodel family favorite recipes into healthy meals involves a few steps. First, you need to look at the ingredients and ask yourself how much flavor each one provides for the recipe. Perhaps, your grandmother used lard for her pasty. Naturally, a lard pie crust would be flaky. But would a substitute such as olive oil or shortening diminish that flakiness or alter the taste that drastically?
Bacon and adding its grease to fry onions and garlic in or for uses for recipes were popular. Nonetheless, it may possess that extra flavor but can you live without that ingredient in your recipe or use just less of it? Reduction of a specific ingredient is another option for healthy meals for a recipe makeover when you think that specific ingredient would be sorely missed in that dish.
Using fatty ingredients such as butters, whole milk and heavy creams do give a creamy, velvet quality to what you’re cooking. Nonetheless, you can substitute lower-fat milk and creams for recipes and still get excellent results. In fact, I like to make a roux with flour and some oil that was used to brown my onions and vegetables for cream soups, sauces, etc. My family has yet to notice my Alfredo sauce that used to have heavy cream and Parmesan cheese has not changed in the least. Heat the oil first before frying and you’ll also use less if you have a lot of oil in that recipe that you’re trying to makeover.
Butter does make a delicious cake and cookie while substitutes like a margarine that specifies spread on the label will not work. Don’t even waste your time trying because there is too much water in a spread. I use either oil or butter for baking, but never a spread.
My great-grandmother made incredible Easter bread. I remember watching her knead the yellow dough over and over again. She used to use cake yeast and lots of eggs, probably at least a dozen to give that golden color. While as delicious as it was, her bread always got stale quickly. Years later, I went with dry yeast and three eggs for my version in the same sort of sweet bread. Believe it or not, my version has a more delicate crust, yellow quality, sweetness and it stayed fresher longer.
Another important consideration is texture when thinking of a recipe makeover. For instance, the recipe that you want to redo may use nuts that give the dish a nice crunch. You might miss that extra chew in a stir-fry dish, but always could add less of the nuts or substitute more crunchy vegetables and cut calories. In the case of cookies or cake, you might feel deprived of that awesome combination to the taste. How valuable is that ingredient for the recipe’s texture?
Something that you may not have thought of when redoing a recipe is adapting how it is cooked. For example, you might be boiling vegetables like carrots before adding them to the dish. If so, try roasting them. You will be shocked at how much sweetness they add to what you’re cooking.
These are just a few ideas on how to make your family favorite recipes into more healthy meals. If you have anything to do, I would like to hear about it and try it too!